Podcast #114

The Power of Authenticity in DSO Marketing with Lacie Randall

This week’s episode of Ignite is a goldmine as Lacie Randall, Director of Marketing, Pediatric Dentistry at Specialty Dental Brands joins our host and Cardinal’s CEO, Alex Membrillo. You'll learn the importance of educational content to preempt patient questions, the shift toward authenticity and personalization in dental marketing, and the significance of reputation management. Dive into strategies that resonate with a modern audience, including leveraging real patient testimonials and imperfect, relatable content. Tune in to hear insights that will empower you to enhance patient experience and engagement, ultimately driving better results for your dental brand!

Episode Highlights:

Alex Membrillo: “Speaking of marketing, what’s the biggest thing we’ve done over the last year? Where’s your focus been with Specialty Dental?”

Lacie Randall: ” As always, digital marketing plays a big part, especially to our demographic, because we’re dealing with a lot of younger adults that have children, or caretakers of any age, but we do focus on that 50 and under demographic. Our keyword optimization for all of our digital ads and all of SEO has been super important, especially after you go through an acquisition and maybe you don’t know the practice that well or don’t know the area. It’s important to do all the research you can to figure out where they’re pulling patients from. Optimizing those keywords, optimizing the area that you’re focusing on, has been a huge part of what we’ve done this past year, as well as implementing reputation management across all of our offices.”

Episode Overview

On this episode of Ignite, our host Alex Membrillo welcomes Lacie Randall, the Marketing Director for Specialty Dental Brands (SDB). Lacie oversees the marketing for pediatric dentistry and multi-specialty offices within SDB, managing over 85 offices across 47 brands. The conversation dissects the intricacies of managing marketing for such a vast network and the importance of building strong internal relationships with office managers and doctors to ensure cohesive marketing strategies.

A key focus for Lacie has been optimizing digital marketing strategies, especially SEO and keyword optimization, to attract younger demographics. She also emphasized the importance of reputation management, implementing systems like Swell to solicit reviews and improve online presence. Setting KPIs and using real-time tracking tools like ChannelMix helps SDB monitor campaign performance and lead generation effectively.

Our hosts also discuss the importance of personalization and authenticity in marketing. SDB focuses on using real patient experiences and authentic visuals instead of stock photos to create a more genuine connection with their audience. This includes leveraging user-generated content and videos captured by patients themselves to showcase real-life interactions and experiences at their dental offices.

Looking ahead, Lacie shares her plan to focus on further personalizing the website experience and incorporating dynamic content that adjusts to the individual needs of each visitor, aiming to enhance patient engagement and satisfaction.

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: What’s going on, everybody? Welcome back to Ignite. This is going to be awesome. We’ve got a superstar in the house. This is going to be fun. We don’t just have a lot of DSL experience, but we’ve done other things like lower extremities. We have a true healthcare marketer in the house today. I’m very excited to introduce you to Lacie Randall, straight out of Smashville. What’s up, Lacie?

Lacie Randall: Hi there. How are you, Alex?

Alex: I’m good and caffeinated. I finally slept well for the first time in six nights last night. That at my age-

Lacie: Good morning.

Alex: -changes the entire day. In fact, my wife, when she wakes up every day, she’s like, “How’d you sleep?”

Lacie: Yes, it [inaudible 00:00:55] Can I get that?

Alex: It goes up and down. Lacie, tell them where you work and then we’ll frame up that organization, the size and all that stuff so our listeners understand.

Lacie: I work for Specialty Dental Brands. We’re a house of various dental specialties, as the name implies. I’m the marketing director for pediatric dentistry and multi-specialty offices. That’s anything that has orthodontics as well as pediatric dentistry or even OMS.

Alex: Got it. How many locations is that?

Lacie: We have over 200 as a company and I personally have about 85 offices that encompass about 47 brands.

Alex: Whoa, that’s a lot. 47 brands. How do you keep up with all of that? Incredible, 47 domains. Where do you even start when you have that much?

Lacie: We have an in-house agency. We all work together very well, but I immerse myself in it. I’m friends with all the office managers. I love all the doctors that I work with. It’s really getting to know them on a personal level and knowing their personalities that helps put all of it together so you can remember a lot better.

Alex: I love it, Lacie. That’s something too many marketers are skimming over these days. They don’t realize the internal, just to call it politicking, but network building, I guess, is the better word to use.

Lacie: Relationship.

Alex: Relationship building, it has to happen internally, so the office managers follow along with the initiatives that we need so that we’re driving campaigns to where everybody needs patients. I love that. You build bridges with the providers.

Lacie: Absolutely. I like to also help educate them. These are brilliant individuals. They’ve not only gone to dental school, but they’ve gone to additional training to be a pediatric dentist. One thing they may not have a solid background is marketing. I feel like as a marketing professional, if I can help educate them on what works, what doesn’t, and why it doesn’t work or why it does work, then we work together a lot better. SEB has been great at facilitating that too.

Alex: Very good. They’re great doctors. Business is not– that’s part of why they sell to a DSO, or they’re brought into a DSO, is because they want support with the admin stuff so that they can practice medicine and clean some teeth and fix some kiddos. [laughter] That’s awesome that you get to be on the PITS side. How rewarding. Very cool.

Lacie: It’s a lot of fun. You can be a lot more creative than, say, a general practitioner.

Alex: You can use colors on your website.

Lacie: Yes, absolutely.

Alex: [laughs] That’s fun. Very cool. Speaking of marketing, what’s the biggest thing we’ve done over the last year? Where’s your focus been with Specialty Dental?

Lacie: As always, digital marketing plays a big part, especially to our demographic, because we’re dealing with a lot of younger adults that have children, or caretakers of any age, but we do focus on that 50 and under demographic. Our keyword optimization for all of our digital ads and all of SEO has been super important, especially after you go through an acquisition and maybe you don’t know the practice that well or don’t know the area. It’s important to do all the research you can to figure out where they’re pulling patients from. Optimizing those keywords, optimizing the area that you’re focusing on, has been a huge part of what we’ve done this past year, as well as implementing reputation management across all of our offices.

Alex: I love that. There was no review solicitation system in place when you–

Lacie: It was patchy.

Alex: It wasn’t automatically going out. What did you encounter and what did we do about it?

Lacie: One of the pushbacks I always get, no matter where I’m working, is doctors are afraid of reviews. I will say at SDB, we have mostly great reviews, and it is very seldom that a review reflects the service of the provider or the experience. It’s always about billing, always about insurance, parking, miscommunication, or they’re not even a patient and they left the review on the wrong site. I feel like everyone in marketing has had a few of those. That’s very interesting to me because providers should be excited because we all know the more reviews you get, the more the bad ones are pushed down and not seen as often. I want to crank those out. We have a goal of about 5 to 10 per office per week.

Alex: You did set a goal. There’s a KPI and then you guys have some dashboard you’re monitoring. What tech are you using? What are you using?

Lacie: It’s not consistent across the board, but I’d say 85% are using Swell.

Alex: All right. Swell or Swell?

Lacie: Swell.

Alex: Swell. Is that a dental specific review solicitation platform?

Lacie: They do have a lot of dental offices on there. It’s not dental specific.

Alex: All right. Very good. Guys, you heard it. Swell. Great. Then, but don’t do any initiative without a KPI. That’s why Lacie’s done really well. She probably went around– I’m assuming you went around and trained them, “Hey, this is going to be a big initiative for the year. We’ve got to get the reviews up.”

Lacie: That’s a big deal.

Alex: You had to change the dentist and say, “Guys, don’t be afraid of this. What you should be afraid of is not asking because those are just the negative Nancy’s that are going to be coming around.”

Lacie: Absolutely. To get them off of those platforms that people complain on a lot and get them over to Google, because we all know Google runs the world in that department. We want to make sure their Google business is totally up to date. That’s the first thing they see. That’s what we want people to go to.

Alex: Good. You did focus on Google. I love it. Did you also build an individual Google Business Profile pages for the dentist too? Are you sending reviews there or just location?

Lacie: Just locations. The reason we do that is because it runs the gamut. Some of our offices have five or six providers, some have one, and that way we can keep an eye on it. It’s a lot easier. Sometimes people get confused with names. I have a funny story about that. One of my best friends went to a general dentist, spent $20,000. She had a lot of excessive dental work, a lot of issues from her childhood. She texts me to ask me what his first name was. She did not remember.

She said, “I’ve given this man all this money, but I want to talk to him like a colleague, like a friend and I always say Dr.–” whatever his last name is. She said, “Do his first name?” That’s the reason why we go by location. Oftentimes you get confused, especially if it’s a simple last name or you don’t really remember, you see someone twice a year, maybe you don’t remember, but where it’s located.

Alex: Yes, I see that a lot in dental. There won’t be as much of an emphasis on the individual provider listings, reputation. It’s more so it’s a location and brand based. Also, you’ve got the students coming out of school that are going to be piped in and you don’t want them to attach that. All right. I like it. All right, so you have KPIs. How are you tracking things, Lacie? What are you using dashboard systems, pulling things out at Denticon or Dntrix? How do you track success across 40 something brands? Insane.

Lacie: We use ChannelMix and that was pretty recently implemented. The reason I like that it’s real time. We can see to the dollar what we’re spending on every platform. We can see how many leads are coming from every campaign. Some of our offices have multiple campaigns, especially when you get into this multiple specialty. We want to see how it was performing compared to PITS because PITS should be funneling into that also. It’s super interesting when you do a deep dive, what keywords are working, which ones are not. ChannelMix offers all of that. That way we don’t have to go into multiple platforms to get that information.

Alex: I love that. Your in-house agency built that. Lacie, tell me about the structure of your in-house team. What support people do you have? Where are they? Part-time, full-time? Everybody, that’s the one question I always get. How do I build my team?

Lacie: That is hard. It’s a decision you have to make pretty much at the beginning. Are you going to outsource everything and have a leader that works with multiple vendors? Are you going to outsource some of it? We bring everything in-house that gives us more omni-control. That way, if there’s an issue, we don’t have to wait for a vendor to get back to us. Especially as a vendor yourself, you guys do a phenomenal job. I’ve seen some of your work, but we know that is not the case. As we go through an acquisition period, we try to onboard all of those former websites and dealing with some of these vendors, it is a nightmare that I don’t wish upon my worst enemy. When we bring it in-house, we have that control. We know what’s going on. I can walk over to someone’s desk and say, “Hey, why isn’t this getting done?” As opposed to waiting for a response.

Alex: “This agency’s giving us a bad name. Let’s see.” I like it. Typically, so do you have people in Nashville that are in charge of content, media, or they near short? What does SDB team look like?

Lacie: Everybody is full-time, but we all wear multiple hats. We have everything from content writers to more website project managers. We have a UX designer, we have a digital leader, a paid ads leader. We’re very fortunate. Then I handle everything for all the PITS and multi-specialty practices to make sure everything gets done. Everything is consistent on brand. There’s no hiccups, even though there’s always a hiccup. We battle those as they come.

Alex: I love that. For all of that to be in-house, there’s got to be one super savvy leadership team. I feel like it’s got to be a bunch of people that understand marketing in-house and run an agency like that. Very smart. It’s hard enough running an agency when it’s all I do. I couldn’t imagine for you guys that are trying to practice medicine, too. Oh, my gosh.

Lacie: Absolutely. We have a great operations team, and we work very close with our operations team. We have great leaders there as well as we have a VP of all marketing that keeps everyone together and make sure that any of the market is consistent, all the platforms are working, that we’re hitting numbers, and then we’re responsible for our own business unit.

Alex: Oh, I love it. ChannelMix. Do you guys have online scheduling?

Lacie: Yes. Across a lot of our offices.

Alex: What’s your platform?

Lacie: It depends. We’re not all on the same PMS right now, just because multi-specialty threw us out for a leap. We use Curve, we use NextHealth, whatever is included in the PMS, we’re working on that. Denticon has its own online scheduling link. We’re adding that right now.

Alex: Are you guys tracking media placed into booking or are you mostly cost per lead, phone, email, online scheduling? How far does ChannelMix take? What is your–

Lacie: We’re doing both. We’re doing both.

Alex: Wow. Sophisticated, Lacie. I love that.

Lacie: We’re trying our best. I love Form Fills. I want all the information ahead of time so that our office managers can call and see what’s going on, but I also love online scheduling. I love taking people directly there and letting them handle themselves. Especially the demographic I work with, I don’t want to call someone and make an appointment.

Alex: No.

Lacie: I’ll take it online and have it out of my hair.

Alex: We found the no-show rate sometimes with online scheduling is worse because they felt nothing towards the practice. They didn’t actually talk to a human. Some of our clients have started calling after the online scheduling. Have you seen the no-show rates are worse? Yes, so you guys are doing that. Cool. Call tracking, what do you guys use?

Lacie: Call tracking, we’re using different platforms there too. Whenever you have so many locations at so many different specialties, and I have one brand that has over 14 locations, I say over because when we don’t really market, that’s when it gets really fun.

Alex: Lacie, now in talking to you, I’m realizing how tough of a job you have because you do all of this M&A and then they have this thing, and that thing, and this thing, and you’re like, “Oh my God. We’re going to spend the next six months just getting you onto the same tech that we have on the other people.” I hope you have a lot of help.

Lacie: You bet. Very correct. There are–

Alex: I hope you got a lot of help there, Lacie. Oh my God. That’s a killer. Every marketer wakes up and absolutely loves something. Where does your focus go? What part of marketing do you love the most?

Lacie: First of all, I like to see results, if I’m going to be honest, to see those positive results. Otherwise, I love the educational aspect. I say that because I think as a healthcare marketer, that’s always something we have to overcome. I personally read almost every lead that comes through. I want to see what the problem is. I want to see what we should be marketing too, what can we solve for our patients? Just for example, if we can use educational tactics, people don’t have to call the office and ask all these questions. They already have the information in front of them. A lot of calls are about insurance or hours. You’ve got to answer those super simple questions. Also, people don’t know when children should be coming to see a dentist.

Do I take my baby? Do they need to have all their teeth in? There’re so many questions that we get like that. Anytime we can educate, but also advertise at the same time, it makes a huge difference. That’s something that I like to focus on, is making sure that we answer questions in a cool way or in a design-based aesthetic so that people aren’t wondering, “Why does this person have braces when they’re 14 and this person has them when they’re seven?” “Do people refill their baby teeth before they get braces?” There’re so many random questions that we feel that we try to take care of that on websites and through ads when possible.

Alex: I love that. You are advertising the upper funnel educational stuff. We have those questions too, because we have 14, 4 and 3-year-old. By the time we got to the 4 and 3-year-old, we forgot what we learned with the 14. We took the little guys to the dentist, and she was like, “They’re biting their teeth. They both have all these cavities. They’re going to need this and that.” To have those resources that you guys all have on your website, that would have been hugely helpful, but we walked out in there and she just said, “Go look it up.”

That’s very cool that you spend a lot. You love educating. You love when education turns into results, helps the parent feel good. I know it helps take a lot load off our mind. You mentioned aesthetically pleasing. I’m going to assume you’re not using just ChatGPT, “Give me an article on when someone should have braces.” Spit it out, put it on 46 blogs.

Lacie: No, not at all. ChatGPT has done wonders for a lot of different content creators. I do believe in using it, but I also believe you have to personalize it a little bit more. Some of it I can tell right away on a blog or even an ad. I’m like, this doesn’t even read well. It doesn’t read like something or how you would say something. Although we do use that to a point, we do not rely on it at any point for any of our offices, just because we try to offer a more customized experience than just dialing up a dentist down the road and throwing your kid in front of them. We want to make sure that all the nooks and crannies are covered.

Alex: I love it. Authenticity at the heart of it. Would you have a dentist or a hygienist, anybody, reviewer, and put some specific quirks in there or whatever you’re doing?

Lacie: Absolutely. There’s a core group that I’ll reach out to that I know are A, responsive, B, want to be more involved, and C, have been doing it for a long time. Does this even make sense? If they’ve been doing it for a long time, are they still using the same ways or has something changed that I need to know about that? I don’t have a dental background, I don’t have a health background, I am a marketing major. It’s important to have someone that you can bounce these questions off and make sure that you’re relaying the right information, but making sure that it looks like their office, or it looks like they’re a hygienist. That’s very important to us.

Alex: I love it. You need to find your internal cheerleaders. Your group that cares and wants to improve the type of education they’re delivering and then you go to them, and you say, “Hey listen. I’m back, Jim, can you look at this article?” The cool thing is you can, I guess someone duplicate that article across the 40 sites and just add the twist of the location and stuff onto there.

Lacie: We do try to scale, but at the same time we have to know that it’s not one size fits all. That’s a dream.

Alex: Now, so are you guys mostly in the Southeast? Are you mostly in the Southeast?

Lacie: No, we are across the country.

Alex: Woo.

Lacie: I’m just based in Montana and South Dakota.

Alex: I think Montana is number two on my bucket list. Number one Hawaii, number two Montana.

Lacie: We’re currently– so I can send you that recruiting ad right now.

Alex: What do you see not working? Let’s talk about what you’ve seen not work. I think that’s important for marketers in your field to also know.

Lacie: This is going to get me a lot of flak, but I don’t see QR codes being the be-all end-all. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a QR code on a billboard, on a website. I’ve seen a QR code on a website, I just had to slam my laptop and shove it. On a mailer. First of all, I’m not a fan of mailers for a myriad of reasons, but a QR code on a mailer. Why are we spending all this money when we can talk about your message right now? Why are you taking me somewhere else? I love the trackability of them and they do serve a purpose, but when you’re not going to a proper landing page or a promotion, when it’s just leading to your website, why did you take up valuable real estate on anything with an ugly QR code?

Alex: Unbelievable.

Lacie: That’s always my frustration when someone suggests we should put a QR code on it. No. Where are we taking them? Are we going to Disney World? Because that’s the only thing that’s going to make me scan that QR code on your website.

Alex: That’s right. My wife would scan QR codes all day if that were the case. We just went to Disney Land two weeks ago and I’m still tired. That QR code, I remember the Super Bowl commercial where, and I don’t remember who the brand was actually, but the QR code bounced. That was clever. Then it got you guessing. You’re like, “All right. I want to know what this is about.” For the most part, it’s like, “Dude, you’re now just going to make me work more. I don’t understand.”

Lacie: Absolutely. That is it. I think the pandemic, it helped with making people use them and know how to, but I do remember around 2010, 2011, I created this really simple app because we needed it in South Florida for a boat show and I should not have created it. It was horrible. However, I tried and I had a QR code that led to this horrible app and no one knew what it was. That was an adoption strategy before it was well used. It did not work.

Alex: It didn’t work?

Lacie: It looked like I was some big techie.

Alex: Yes, they’re like, “Lacie.” They’re like, “What is all of these dots on this thing?” “It’s a QR code” “What’s a QR code?” Sometimes I’m like the most innovative fella.

Lacie: Then everyone adds it to their phones.

Alex: Yes, I guess not. Yes, I got it. The best platform still has to be used at the right time and executed correctly, I suppose. What are you going to be focused on? You got a ton going on. Is it going to be the MNA, like media marketing playbooks over the next year? Where’s your focus going to be for the rest of ’24?

Lacie: Yes, and something I like to focus on is personalization and authenticity. Long gone are the days with beautiful actors, actresses, and videos that we were throwing on a website, throwing on Facebook. Now we want to see the ugly, as I say. We want to see the reality. We want to see someone like us getting in there, going to a doctor’s office. We’re doing a lot more. I don’t want to call it necessarily bespoke work, but it is more personalized to not only our offices, but to the authentic experience, because people want to know what they’re getting into at that office. They don’t want a stock photo of the same girl that we’ve seen in every healthcare ad for the past 10 years. I start naming them at this point. I hope she made a ton off of her royalties.

Alex: There’s Brittany.

Lacie: Exactly, if we see this same girl on every website, every ad, so to you–

Alex: Got them all over my website. Are you doing the in-office virtual tours? Are you having photo shoots done at the acquired practices kind of stuff?

Lacie: We’re doing all of that. We’re having real patients, telling them to use their iPhone and video them at the dentist. Some of our cheerleaders at the offices that are great patients, we’re doing that. We’re throwing some of our providers in there and filming them, but not doing it perfectly, right?

Alex: Yes.

Lacie: Perfection is long gone. We want TikTok. We want creators. We want those people in front of the camera that’s talking about the authenticity and not just the perfection.

Alex: Are you doing the TikiTokis?

Lacie: I am not. You do not want me on TikTok. I would probably be banned right away because I would say something crazy. However, we like to concentrate on Facebook and Instagram.

Alex: Facebook and Instagram. All right.

Lacie: We do have providers that are great with TikTok, but as I don’t have to tell this audience this, if you’re not doing it consistently, please don’t do it at all. Please.

Alex: Most of us cannot do it consistently, let’s be honest. We can hardly keep up with 46 brands on Meta, and running ads, and SEO, and reputation, and listings. I haven’t seen a group that does those things well. There’s no point to trying to get too creative and fancy. How else do you guys personalize? We have some of that, we’re asking the providers to get our patients’ testimonials and office. Is there anything else you guys do?

Lacie: We’re working on a dynamic website experience.

Alex: Okay. Tell me more.

Lacie: We brought all of them onto our servers right now, and we deal with a lot of old, very poorly put together websites at times and so they’re not running where they should be. We want to make those more dynamic. We want to bring them into the future. I know you’re very well aware that sometimes people throw a video on a website and expect this to just blow everyone’s mind, and those things are fading. Those videos, they don’t rank well, or they’re just so slow that it’s really hindering the patient experience. We want to make it more personalized.

I like to compare it to like Instagram to whenever you’re seeing those things recommended for you, we’re hoping to get to a place where what you’re looking for is the first thing that pops up. Your experience is going to be different from your neighbor’s experience. I think personalization on actual websites is in the future. Maybe not tomorrow, but in the future, as we change some of those websites and bring them more up to date.

Alex: Yes, I love it. We’ll definitely get there. The geo-personalization is where it started. “Hey, I see you’re from here. Are you looking for this thing?” I’ve seen some groups are now starting to train AI chat bots so that you can go on there as a mom and be like, “Hey, what location service this? Does my kid need braces?” And it’s going to start answering that stuff. I think that’s going to help everybody’s patient experience quite a bit. The personalization we’re going to get there. It’s going to be a weird balance, actually, because we have less signals because of HIPAA compliance that we all have to follow.

We want more personalized patient experiences. It’s like, “Come on government. Let us do a little bit more. This is less fun than it was.” Lacie, this has been a blast. Thank you for joining us on Ignite. We learned a ton. You have a ton on your plate. We’ll be watching your trajectory and Specialty Dental Brands very closely. We appreciate you so much.

Lacie: Thank you. I appreciate your time, Alex.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

Healthcare Marketing Insights At Your Fingertips

Listen and subscribe to Ignite wherever you get your podcasts.

Get Started

Ready to Grow?

Great partnerships start with great discoveries. We start with your business goals and budget, and then help you find the right digital marketing strategy to fuel growth.

Fill out the form to get started!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.